my confession

I have a confession to make. I want to rule the world. I want everyone to obey me and never question my authority. If anyone attempts to rise above my command, I want the freedom to do whatever I like to him (torture, imprisonment, kill, etc.).

On the other hand, I want to live in a fair world. I want people to do the right thing just because it’s right. I want to live in a world where everyone gets what they earn. Good people get rewarded and bad people get punished. I feel that if I lived in that world, I too could live morally and with concern for my fellow man, work hard for what I want, and get it because I earned it.

Why do I have these two apparently conflicting desires? I think the former one - absolute rule over the world - needs no explanation. Everyone wants that however much they like to deny it. But where does the latter one come from? It comes from the fact that I know I’ll never attain to such a level of world dominance as that described above, and so the next best thing is to live in a world where I don’t have to worry about being oppressed and taken advantage of. That is to say, if I can’t have total domination in which case I’d have total control over the world and anything that happens to me, I don’t want to suffer at the hands of the person who does. That is to say, in not having world domination, I lose that much more control over my life and I risk being treated unfairly by the system that’s maintained by whatever tyrant is in power. In that case, I’m better off in a world that treats everyone fairly, that issues the right rewards and punishments to those who deserve them, and that allows one to earn what he wants on his own efforts and merits.

Although the former desire is the one I ultimately want, I know it’s impractical, and so I spend most of my time hoping for and defending the latter.

Does anyone feel the same way? Does anyone agree with the above reasoning?

I don’t know, absolute dominion sounds like it would be a very lonely way to live - i don’t think any part of me wants that. i could be wrong, nobody knows themselves entirely - But at the same time i don’t think that’s reason to presuppose such an impulse or desire in everybody. Your particular desire for dominion over humankind may be generic but that doesn’t mean it’s universal.

I don’t quite see it so global :mrgreen:, some power over my surroundings will do. And I don’t particulary want to see other people suffer. I just don’t like to have to obey other people rules.

And yes I see the issue of practicality on a larger scale, so I gladly accept that there are some laws that try to mitigate some of the worst struggles for power. But at the same time i’m not a great advocate of equality. Often i can’t help feeling it’s a bid for weakness when someone appeals to equality in a moral context.

An advocate of Fairness? Maybe, depending how you see it. I don’t like seeing some of the more deserving individuals, in my eyes, being dragged down by the vox populi. And usually it’s not because they don’t contrutribute to the group. I think that’s unfair.

Aren’t you asking for a world wherein power is the measure of things then. Think about it. How else are you going measure merit?

Like the language games we all play you mean?

If it involves obeying other people’s rules, i don’t like it.

Do you like it?

Is this a language game?

To UPF & Diekon,

I understand the point you brought up - about how global/universal these sentiments are - and I’m pretty sure I’m exaggerating in my OP just to make my point. What I’m really trying to work out is the conflict between these two attitudes within me - the one that seeks to defend a fair and moral world, the other that doesn’t care for fairness and morality, so long as I get my way. I’m trying to figure out why I carry these two seemingly contradictory attitudes.

Well, it’s not really a question of who’s in power; it’s a question of control over my own life. If a meritocracy requires someone in power to oversee the fair distribution of rewards and punishments, so be it; so long as I can get what I earn (i.e. so long as I can control my own destiny and make a happy life for myself by adhering to the rules).

Bad Religion: “I Want to Conquer the World”

Hey brother christian with your high and mighty errand,
Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word you’re saying.
Hey sister bleeding heart with all of your compassion,
Your labors soothe the hurt but cant assuage temptation.
Hey man of science with your perfect rules of measure,
Can you improve this place with the data that you gather?
Hey mother mercy can your loins bear fruit forever?
Is your fecundity a trammel or a treasure?
And I want to conquer the world,
Give all the idiots a brand new religion,
Put an end to poverty, uncleanliness and toil,
Promote equality in all my decisions
With a quick wink of the eye
And a god you must be joking!
Hey Mr. Diplomat with your worldly aspirations,
Did you see the children cry when you left them at the station?
Hey moral soldier you’ve got righteous proclamation,
And precious tomes to fuel your pulpy conflagrations.
And I want to conquer the world,
Give all the idiots a brand new religion,
Put an end to poverty, uncleanliness and toil,
Promote equality in all of my decisions
I want to conquer the world,
Expose the culprits and feed them to the children,
I’ll do away with air pollution and then save all the whales,
We’ll have peace on earth and global communion.
I want to conquer the world! (x4)

I think that as you describe it - the trade-off between what we want and what we’d be prepared to accept - Rawls’ thought-experiment is a useful tool:
If you were going to be born into a society, but without knowing any information beforehand about who you’d be - what race, gender, level of physical/mental ability, looks, family connections and so on - what sort of society would you choose to be born into?

I have a confession to make. I rule you all: I actually do. This world is mine, is me.

Fairness is the bid of the weak to be raised to the middle, the highest point that they understand. I want inequality, segregation, discretion and hierarchy - and this is what I have.

all communication revolves around predetermined rules - you use english, you use predetermined rules.
we can alter the rules, but for it to make sense in communication, we would have to agree on the meaning of a word - a meaning given in context and syntax.

I can see why you might not like other people’s rules, but you are mistaken if you think you don’t like it absolutely.
You mean moral rules, rather than communicative rules?

Morality is an abstract painting that you can decypher in any way you want - you needn’t obey other people’s rules, you simply make them your own rules!
You fancy yourself as an anarchist? Do you want to see state’s dissolved?

But it is all about power my dear Gib! Your control over your life is power over your life - and in any system where the rules are defined not on individual cases, but by the law of large numbers, you are going to find that your power is checked often times enough by the system.

You want to be free to have power over the world - this is individual freedom - but also want to be safe against being usurped by some other individual who may wish to destroy you to gain something for themselves… this is typical.

You do infact want the world to continue as it is; because it allows for certain freedoms - you are free to choose a job, a specialisation, a family, political ideal, moral code etc.

However, you are not free to decide you do not want to follow the system’s own moral code at your own discretion… I fail to see how you feel like you are stuck… you have exactly what you want in life.

What I meant was more something allong the lines of what +1-1[0] said, but maybe not quite that extreme. Who determines who deserves what, how are you going to measure merit? Merit is essentially related to power, rules usually only get in the way. That’s why people who are an advocate of some sort of meritocracy usually want less rules. They are usually not the ones that need protection from power.

But as I said, I’m also glad there are at least some rules in place, for practicality’s sake. And also for mutual benefit. Even businesses will sometimes ask for a basic regulation of their sector. Those in power usually see the benifits of deals, conventions, and are not as tyrannical as people may often think.

Right, but what I’m facing here is a choice between two means to power: 1) I work within the system, adhering to the rules, and in the end, build a life for myself that I can enjoy and feel secure in - or - 2) make the rules as I see fit and effectively enforce them upon everyone else. Assuming that I have the means in place to effect 2) beforehand (i.e. my rule is recognized, I have a police force, I have a surveillance system in place for detecting any opposition or secret conspiracies against me, etc.), it would probably be the easier route and thus the one that offers more power. But in either case, the life I want is within reach.

I don’t see these two as compatible with each other. If I’m the one in power and I exercise my power by commanding others to give me or allow me to do whatever I want, and I have the means to enforce that, it isn’t really a fair system. What if I wanted someone else’s wife? I could just take her. I get what I want but it certainly isn’t fair to the husband or the wife.

My desire for a fair system is at the expense of my desire for absolute power over society. I often desire the former because I know the latter is impractical and will never happen.

Well, not really. Assuming that we do in fact live in a fair society, I suppose my desire to live within one is met, but there is the other desire to live a life in which I can do whatever I want without negative consequences. That certainly isn’t fulfilled. But I guess I should also point out that when it comes to desires like this - that is, ones that are practically impossible to satisfy - we tend to push it out of our minds, and usually quite successfully, and never think about it again. The best example of this is how we all would like to be billionairs, but knowing this will never be a reality, we tend not to think about it rather than dwell over it and become miserable. We can do this so well, in fact, that we come to enjoy our lives for what they are despite not having these magnanimus fortunes and privelleges. So I don’t really feel stuck in my life just because I can’t get what I want whenever I want and get away with it, but there are times when I wish I could circumvent the rules or do what I know isn’t morally right. It’s in those moments when I feel this sense of disonance between my attitudes, and that’s what inspired this thread.

That would be of secondary importance to me. So long as the rules and the following of them by everyone around me seemed fair to me, I would be satisfied. I realize I would have to define “fairness” and analyze the system of rules with a lot more scrutiny before I can say that it is indeed a fair system or not, but you have to remember that this is not a philosophical position I’m advocating; I’m not arguing that such a system should be put in place or that it’s even possible; I’m simply analyzing my own psychology and trying to come to grips with why I want a fair system sometimes while at other times I could give a shit about fairness so long as I got my way.

I don’t think you would be satisfied in either way.

To have absolute power, you need to be the designer/creator of everything.
But you don;t even know how to use yourself. I mean we don’;t come into the world with the user manual for our body-emotion-mind and guide book for physical (and other) realities.
Even you happen to know about everything, do you really want to manage everything?
Just managing a small company is messy, and you have to manage entire existence by yourself.
I wouldn’t do that even if I could. I will create subordinate and let them manage while I do nothing but something I really want to do (if any). :slight_smile:

And you won’t get fair society, either, because you don’t know exactly what is fair in all possible situation.
Communism is very simple (or rather idiotic) attempt to achieve fairness that failed miserably, due to human natures such as laziness, lack of honesty, greed, etc.

I’d recommend you to dig WHY you want these ideals.
What’s wrong if you don;t attain these?
What’s wrong with current state?
What are your frustrations and fears?


i want i want i want i want. when you choose to allow everyone to want what they want…and allow them to have equally what you have…then your conflict with disappear.

of course in the real world, that may not even be feasible but you can at least begin within yourself.

and this is the question - the survival of us all - over the survival of the fittest? thou canst not then be untrue to any man!!

I agree with you Gib, but on the flip side i will try to take over the world and at the same time hope for a fair one, simply covering both my options.

hahaha - can you tell me at what point you plan to do this Wonderer so that i may observe this amazing feat?

Heh, i have some short term and long term goals worked out, wait 5 years and maybe you will have heard of it

until then, hows the punch? :evilfun:

I’ll bet you’re right. Yet these conflicting desires remain within me: to have whatever I want whenever I want without having to suffer any consequences, and to be sure that the world I live in is a fair and moral one.

Both are unrealistic - as you pointed out, its impossible to figure out what’s fair in all situations - but the desires remain. My delimma isn’t really how to make them into realities, it’s how to make sense out of the fact that they both exist within me.

Absolute power? That’s fairly simple: having absolute power means I can do whatever I want without any consequences.

A fair and moral world? It makes me feel secure knowing that, if I’m not in power, I can at least count on others (including those who are in power) treating me fairly. ← this is how I reconcile the two.

If I don’t gain absolute power? Nothing so long as I can live in a fair and moral world (yes, the ‘absoluteness’ of my power may be something I’d miss, but having lived my whole life without it and apparently getting along just fine, I’d say I could get over it). If I can’t live in a fair and moral world? Well, we don’t really live in a fair and moral world, and I still seem ot be getting by - although there are times when it’s a lot harder to accept than at other times.

I could be more fair and moral, but as I said, it can be accepted as it is (now, this mainly applies to western society. There are certainly regions of the world that are trajically unacceptable).

Sometimes I worry that I’ll go to work one day realizing I forgot to put my clothes on. It’s a reocurring dream of mine. :smiley:

Fair enough, and I think I understand what you’re saying. And to some extent I also had these conflicting thoughts. For me I think it came down to this: At the base we all want power, and everybody knows it about each other. So i sometimes see it as reasonable that we all should let go of this desire to let everybody benifit or lose equally, or want a fair world, with the assumption it will be better from everyone as a whole. And then i get upset that this implied trust is broken, and can’t stumach the thought of someone taken advantage of my naivity.

It’s essentially the prisoners dilemma.

What would be interesting is to test the assumption that it would be a better world for everybody taken as a whole. Maybe everybody loses, or at least the majority.

And what would be even more interesting is a further look at how it actually plays out in de real world. The one one lives in. It’s allmost never one or the other totally. To get out of this binairy thinking, one has to get rid of the “evil” connotation power has, and the “good” connotation fairness has. I think these are the blinders that prevent one from looking at the issue with some nuance.